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About Jennifer Maggio

 

Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.

Jennifer Maggio

Jennifer Maggio
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Jennifer Maggio is considered a leading authority on single parents and womens issues. She is an award-winning author and speaker who draws from her own experiences through abuse, homelessness, and teen pregnancy to inspire audiences everywhere. She is founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries and writes for dozens of publications. She has been featured with hundreds of media outlets, including The 700 Club, Daystar Television, Moody Radio, Focus on the Family, and many more. For more information, visit thelifeofasinglemom.com.

7 Best Things You Can Do in Women's Ministry

Satan’s ploy is to steal, kill, and destroy. It is his vision, his mission, his very existence on this earth, to steal your joy, kill your relationships, and destroy fellowship among Christians. We have to understand that as ministry leaders in women's ministry, there will be things that arise.  Why? Because if you are truly impacting lives for the Kingdom of Christ, particularly women, who are raising up children in the way they should go, the enemy is scared. He is going to attempt to disrupt your ministry in a variety of ways.  Here are the best things you can do to guard against the disruption:

  • You have to be mature as a leader. You can’t be easily offended. You have to guard your heart. There will be times when the women will be critical of you. The volunteers may criticize. The church leaders or members may not say the right thing to you. Get over it. Please. I say that in love. Get over it. This work is too important. We wrestle not against flesh and blood. If something offends you or someone hurts you, give grace & move on. Don’t dwell. There is danger is the dwelling! The more you stay there, the bigger the issue becomes. So just resolve in your mind that no matter what happens, God has called you to this minister and he guides, who he calls.
  • Lay down the competitive spirit. Competition kills ministry. You aren’t competing with any other ministry in your church. You aren’t  competing with other women. You aren’t competing with other womens' ministries in your area or your state. There is no competition in ministry. We all have a role and a part. You aren’t competing with anyone within your group for the best speaking ability or singing voice or leadership skills. You are you. Walk in your role. SO much drama in ministry has to do with the fact that we don’t know our role. We aren’t confident in who God has created us to be. We should celebrate the successes of other women, other ministries. Celebrate their gifts. Celebrate their victories. Don’t compete.
  • Don’t ignore conflict. Handle it. Let’s say the conflict is with you and another member of the ministry, whether an attendee or a volunteer. You can’t just ignore the situation. The Bible says to take your problem to your brother first.  Unfortunately, what we sometimes have a tendency to do is either ignore it, because it’s uncomfortable and we don’t like conflict. Or we tend to talk to other people about it, so that we can somehow be right. Relinquish your desire to be right. The goal is healthy relationships and restoration of the relationship, not your ability to be right. So….that means sometimes you apologize, when it wasn’t your fault.  The conflict will get bigger when it isn’t handled. This is critical in ministry. 
  • Understand that “problem” women are simply hurt.  Yes, there will be what we consider to be "problem" people in our ministry. They are broken. Maybe they are past abuse victims. Maybe they’ve been so disappointed by so many that they do things like lie or gossip or manipulate or need to control or offend or maybe talk too much. Whatever the problem is, understand there is a root to the problem. Relationship helps these women heal.  God loves you so much and trusts you so much that he has now positioned you to shepherd another group of women. This is big. And the more you foster relationships and create a safe space for these women, the less likely you are to battle the “problem” . Listen, we all have problems. Issue tons of grace, when they don’t say the right thing in group or behave the right way. Love them. They need you to love them. You are Christ’s ambassador.
  • Don’t judge these women. The last thing that the women in your ministry need is a finger-pointing leader who is constantly dissecting why they are sinning. Now, this comes in lots of forms. Here’s what often happens. We, as leaders, are so excited that God has done the miraculous in our lives. We love Him so much and we just want the world to know about His goodness. Those are all great things. But if we aren’t very careful, we translate that excitement into, “Well let me tell you the 5 things you need to do to fix your life.” And then, when she doesn’t do those things, or we go around the same mount with her over and over again, we just tend to finger point or become disappointed and frustrated.  Okay, so I’ve been in women's ministry for a decade. I have seen God do the supernatural. I have seen him set women free of addiction in a moment. I have seen women’s lives transformed in a moment. I have seen the miraculous. I know hundreds of women personally that God has redeemed. But….I also have some of the same women in my local ministry that were there 10 years ago, talking about the same things, making the same mistakes. Thank God that He didn’t give up on us, when we failed.
  • Always honor your spiritual authority! No matter what. ALWAYS honor your spiritual authority.  (The only exception is illegal or immoral behavior). Maybe you have a pastor or a women’s ministry leader or missions pastor that has been unbearable in your opinion. Maybe they’ve been unfair. Maybe they’ve not been as supportive as you would’ve hope. You honor them. Pray for them. Do not talk about them with ANYONE. The more you talk about them, the more bitter seeds you plant. God is in control. God will speak to them or remove them. ​
  • Give challenged women a task to complete. Listen, I’m not naïve to think that you aren’t going to have some problem women in your group from time to time. I understand. Now, their job isn’t going to be mentoring other women, of course! But maybe the job is, "Hey, I really need some help with organizing the food each week. Would you be willing to help get volunteers to cook the meal?" Whatever that looks like for your ministry, give women a task. Maybe it’s sending emails or inputting data or follow-up welcome calls or set-up or clean-up or greeters & welcome team. Whatever you need, give them the task. Whatever the root issue is that may make her defensive or a busy-body or whatever could likely be addressed over time, as she finds value in her service to others.

Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is chauffeur, chief dishwasher, carpool queen, and duct tape aficionado. But more importantly, she is passionate about teaching women how to find complete freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com

 

 


What Are We Always Complaining About

One of my dearest friends and I have known each other for more than twenty years. Years ago, we both lived in the same apartment complex and often shared meals to save money.  We had very little to call our own. As young single moms, we had furnished our government-issued apartments, albeit sparingly, with previously-owned, heavily-used, furniture, bedding, dishes, and the like.  Often, we were the thankful recipients of other’s throwaways. We stretched every dollar, farther than imaginable. We worked long hours and often had more debt than dollars. We clipped coupons, worked multiple jobs, held garage sales, etc. – whatever was necessary to ensure we provided for our young families. There is something about my friend that struck me years ago, and it is still true today.  She is the most grateful woman I have ever met. I mean, she is truly, truly grateful. Whatever the season, this girl just oozes thanksgiving. Sadly, I cannot say that I exhibit that same sense of gratitude every day.

I have become increasingly aware of the lack of gratitude that many of us suffer with. There is a seemingly growing trend among people who have a sense of expectation that something is somehow owed to us for our very existence.

Do you know what is owed to us?  Death. We are owed eternal separation from God, according to Romans 6:23. But God, in His amazing grace, chose to send us a Savior. God paid the price for grace we never deserved.  When has it been acceptable to be angry about not getting something that no one ever owed us?

It seems that many of us think that what we have is never enough. We always want more. If we’re hungry and the food bank is passing out bread, we want two loaves instead of just one. If the church is giving away free coffee after Sunday service, we’re irritated that it isn’t Starbucks and not just a simple off-bard. If we’re single, we want to be married. If we’re married, we want a better spouse. We want to be thinner, prettier, and richer. We want a good job, then a better one. Then, that job is no longer the best job, so we search for the next job. And we’re raising children who are just as bad. They often aren’t grateful for the new toy, they want the best toy. They aren’t sensitive to financial boundaries, because culture (that’s us) permeates the greed of more, more, more. And the pursuit of that façade will never make us happy or fulfilled or thankful.

Read Exodus 16: 1-8.

As a child, can you remember possessing a sense of wonder about the world? Do you remember looking to the sky in awe of how big and blue and impressive it was? Do you remember saying childhood prayers where you thanked God for the flowers, the trees, and the very air you breathed? We were thankful for moms and dads and sisters and brothers, a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies. What age does that shift? When do we stop being thankful for the little things and the big ones that God has provided? When do we determine that only the ones we deem big are worth thanking God for? In fact, what gives us the right to even categorize any of God’s blessings on our lives as small?

We need to shift our perspective today, friends.  We need to be focused on gratitude.  Consider, What are the things in my life that I can be thankful for, not the things in my life I lack?

There are some things we need to understand about our circumstances in order for us to shift from complaining to gratitude.

  • God’s provision is always enough.  Look at Exodus 16:17-18, “So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed.”

My provision doesn’t look like your provision.  What I need in my life is different from what you need in your life.  Maybe you’re in a season where God wants to show you some things, so you don’t have a lot, and you’re learning to navigate on just a little, or you’re learning some things about the wilderness, He’s teaching you some things about faith.   Or maybe you’re in a reaping season, because you’ve sown lots of good seeds and God is blessing you in this season. Sometimes, God hasn’t given us what we asked for, because we don’t need it, or maybe we haven’t been faithful with what He’s already done. 

Sadly, many of us are grateful for God’s provision for about 30 seconds.  Then, we move on to the next thing we want.  God always has a plan.  When the Red Sea was parted, it wasn’t this last-minute, impulsive move on God’s part. He always knew he had a way.  He has a plan and purpose for you, as well.  Take some time to journal what God is doing for you. Write it down and save it.  Create a gratitude journal or a gratitude jar.  Look back over the months and years of how faithful God has been. 

God will always do more than we think. He will provide in ways that we can’t even think about asking Him for. He’ll do things that are substantial, miraculous, earth-shattering, and life-changing.  He knows what He’s doing. Trust Him to do it and get grateful about it.

 

  • What you choose to focus on matters.  Exodus 16:9-10 says, “Then Moses said to Aaron, ‘Announce this to the entire community of Israel: Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your complaining,’. And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud.”  Just a couple of versus before they had been complaining about what they didn’t have. In fact, verse 2 indicates that they had been complaining about their circumstances, even before that.

When you choose to shift your perspective, you can see God’s handiwork all around you.  We may not have everything we are praying for right now, but there are others with greater needs, greater lack. God is a good God who provides. 

What do you have? Do you have healthy children? Do you have a roof over your head? Do you have access to transportation? Do you have a best friend? Do you have a loving church? A job? Education? Breath?

If we aren’t grateful for THIS thing, we will never be grateful for THAT thing – whatever that thing is. It’s so true.  That new hair color, promotion, ministry opportunity, car, job, house, friend, boyfriend --- none of those things will ever do. Because we are always choosing to focus on the next best thing. 

Contentment is a choice. Choose to be grateful. Paul writes about this so famously in Phil. 4:11-13, and I’m paraphrasing, “ I have learned to be content with whatever I have, whether a little or a lot, empty stomach or full… and he finishes with, For I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.”  In other words, God is going to give me what I need in the season I need it, so I’m going to choose to be thankful for where I am and what I’m doing right now. .

  • Your obedience matters.  Exodus 16:19-20, “Then Moses told them, ‘Do not keep any of it until morning.’ But some of them didn’t listen, and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them.” 

What is in your life right now that was meant to be a blessing, but is now beginning to stink, because you haven’t obeyed? When God gives a command, He’s not messing around.  It isn’t optional.  Submission, in today’s culture, has become a dirty word. Submitting to anything has become offensive.  Some may even say, “Do what you want to do. You are free to live how you want to live.” Yes, God has given you a free will to make choices, but His perfect will is that you obey Him, that you trust the plans he has for you.  We get into trouble when we choose not to obey.  Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt. But his disobedience left him dead in the wilderness. He never entered the Promised Land. He chose to disobey God and what’s worse, He chose to do it when others were looking.

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the LORD. Prov. 19:3

Ouch. That's a tough verse.  We have to get better at obedience. We have to learn to be thankful for all God has done and recognize that his guidance for our lives isn't some rigid set of rules, but rather a loving father whose gentle hand is guiding us and protecting us.

The truth is:  We have all that we need for today.  We can do all things through Christ. we are blessed and highly favored. we are called and chosen. So be thankful.

Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is chauffeur, chief dishwasher, carpool queen, and duct tape aficionado. But more importantly, she is passionate about teaching women how to find complete freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com

 


7 Fresh Ideas for Ministry Leaders

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Whether you are a Sunday School teacher, Bible study leader, pastor, or some other ministry leader, if you have been in ministry for more than a few months, it's likely that you may be looking for some fresh ideas. What are we doing to keep things fresh? Are we flourishing and growing? Are there things I could be doing differently? Those are all questions you may have asked. I've picked up a few things over the last decade that I want to encourage you to consider: 

  • Have fun.  This SHOULD NOT be a fresh idea, but it is. It seems that oftentimes we focus on the 13 points of the Bible study lesson, much more so than relationship.  Of cousre, the Bible study lesson is vitally important! Dont' misunderstand what I'm saying.  But very often, relationship comes before ministry.  When the Lord opens up doors for us to fellowship, that's when real ministry takes place.  Christianity is a wonderful, life-giving, adventure. We are on the ride of a lifetime with our Savior. Why can't we have fun?! If we focus so much on "fixing everyone" and telling them all that they are doing wrong, we lose them.  IT is okay to laugh in church! It is okay to smile!  Fun Ideas to consider for your next ministry gathering:   play games, karaoke, competitive contests, ice breakers,  scavenger hunts
  • Be open to change.  We often like things the way we like them. We want to do things the way they have always been done.  If it fits in our schedule or if it’s the way we’ve always done it, that’s what we do. We like habit. We like predictable. I'm definitely a creature of habit. But let's be flexible. Learn to evolve with the ministry, as the Holy Spirit guides. Change means meeting nights may change, the style of the meeting may evolve, listening to the needs of your group through extended discussion time, or exploring different teachers for the group in different seasons. There's nothing wrong with change.
  • Consider the participants who aren’t there yet.  When considering change or when launching a new ministry at all, very often, we ask those we know – the ones who are in our lives, our current circle, or our churches.  Begin to think of the ones who are not yet there. When we the "unchurched" girl most likely come to a Bible study? How could I think like the unsaved teenager that I'm trying to reach? Consider the precious ones who are not yet in your ministry, but desperately need to be there. When would it be better for them to meet? What are some topics that are broader in nature, than just what our 5 girls like to talk about?  You have to ask yourself some tough questions. Am I focused on those who are not yet here? Outreach?
  • Ensure you have a team around you.  Volunteers are the backbone of your ministry. Lack of volunteers means burnout.  You NEED volunteers.  Even if you are small in size right now, you need volunteers. If God wants to expand your territory, you need to be ready. You need to be positioned with team members in place to handle the harvest and disciple the attendees, when He brings them to you.  You cannot do it all. You will get bitter. You will exhaust yourself.  Volunteers also get value from serving others, too. Suggestion on things volunteers can do within a ministry:  Greeters, Registration, Prayer Team, Set-up/ Clean-up, Childcare, Food Service, Social Media Team, Hospitality Team to make calls afterwards, Small Group Facilitators. Train your volunteers and stay in relationship with them. Get to know them. 
  • You stay in the Word. You stay healthy.  Growth comes when God has positioned you.  When you are filled to the brim with the Holy Spirit, it will come oozing out of every area.  If you are leading on empty, it will also be evident.  Again, we go back to bitterness, offense, anger, irritation, eye rolling. Stay grounded. Stay faithful. Stay in the Word.
  • Your ministry meeting is not the time for you to tell your story.  It’s okay to interject some thoughts that happened to you personally that are relevant to the lesson you may be teaching, but NOT constantly.  Be cognizant of the 80/20 rule.  Listen more than you speak. Speak when you hear from God. Use wisdom. Too much talk to leads to sin.  You aren’t the Holy Spirit, so allow God to do the ministering. It’s ok to be silent, while others ponder a point or thought. God speaks when we are open to hearing from Him. Teach your attendees to hear from God. Too many Bible study leaders are doing all the talking and there's no room for the Holy Spirit to do the work. 
  • You have to be mature as a leader! You can’t be offended by what they did or said. You can’t use social media as a weapon. You can’t gossip and hide it behind a prayer request.  Volunteers may criticize. Those you minister to may criticize. Be kind. No matter what!

 

Jennifer Maggio is a national author and speaker, mom to three, wife of Jeff, and CEO/Founder of The Life of a Single Mom Ministries. She is chauffeur, chief dishwasher, carpool queen, and duct tape aficionado. But more importantly, she is passionate about teaching women how to find complete freedom in Christ. For more information, visit www.jennifermaggio.com